Picture the scene: Rice fields sweep past, they look like a carpet of green against blue skies. Homesteads with red-tiled roofs roll out of view. You sit back and sip tea, watching the beauty of Kerala through panoramic viewing windows. Soon, the coastal plains melt into the foothills of the Nilgiris mountain range.
Welcome to Keravan Kerala – an enchanting new way to experience the beauty of this southern Indian state, also known as God’s own country.
Three decades since first offering tourists the unique backwater houseboat experience, Kerala Tourism has launched Keravan Kerala – a safe, customised, closest-to-nature holiday experience. Sitting in your private, state-of-the-art vehicle, you can explore the rustic beauty of hamlets in the hinterlands beyond the usual tourist hotspots.
“Launched in September 2021, Keravan Kerala is our response to the Covid pandemic,” said Mr Krishna Teja, Director, Department of Tourism, Kerala. “We want tourists to explore more of our beautiful state in a safe and environmentally friendly manner,” he added. This initiative will set up exclusive caravans and caravan parks across the state.
The caravans are custom-built, stylish vehicles with all the necessities and many luxuries to pamper you while on the road as you experience the heart of Kerala. Each air-conditioned vehicle comes equipped with a sofa-cum-bed, a kitchenette with a fridge and microwave oven, a dining table, and a private toilet cubicle. Internet connectivity and audio-video facilities take care of onboard entertainment and communication.
The safety of the tourists is paramount, and each coach is equipped with GPS and real-time monitoring through the Kerala tourism app.
In a post-covid world, these caravans offer unique and safe ways to see the breathtaking beauty of Kerala’s hinterlands without the hassle of individual hotel bookings.
As part of the Keravan Kerala initiative, Kerala Tourism will promote caravan parks through private and private-public partnerships. These parking lots, located in or near some of the finest tourist attractions such as plantations and eco-resorts, will be designed exclusively for caravans.
“Our focus with this project is to enable tourists to explore the hidden regions of Kerala,” said Mr.Teja.
The parks will have all the comforts and amenities required for a comfortable stay for tourists. Operational 24x7, they will offer facilities such as a reception, kitchen, dining hall, dormitory, bathrooms and toilets, and waste disposal and recycling systems. In addition, round the clock with patrolling and security cameras ensure you enjoy your holiday with complete peace of mind.
Kerala Tourism has focused on sustainability and inclusivity.
“We at Kerala Tourism are pioneers in Responsible Tourism in India,” said Mr Teja. We aim to empower local entrepreneurs and communities to set up parks and operate the caravans.”
“The caravan experience itself also ensures local communities benefit from the tourism activities,” said Mr Teja. Drivers and staff at the caravan parks will be locals from the community. They are trained and bring their wealth of local knowledge to offer tourists more than cursory holidays.
The vehicles are certified with the BS-VI standard for the latest environmental norms in India and have provisions for eco-friendly waste management and disposal and recycling systems.
As part of the policy document, homeowners with extra land and plantations across the state’s hinterlands can also benefit from this initiative by setting up parks for one or two caravans. These will be evaluated by Kerala Tourism, thus ensuring high levels of quality and security for tourists. Kerala is already renowned for its homestays, and Keravan Kerala only adds to that experience.
Travelling in the caravan, you will experience local lifestyles and communities through the Kerala government’s Responsible Tourism initiatives. These initiatives help create more job opportunities for local artisans, artists and women.
Kerala Tourism is making every effort to ensure the Keravan Kerala initiative is Responsible Tourism-friendly and does not adversely impact the local environment or communities.
There will be 15 caravans and five parks operational by March-end, says Mr. Krishna Teja
“We have received tremendous interest from tourists for the venture,” says Krishna Teja, “Soon, we will open bookings directly on our website and app.”
Kerala’s houseboats are known the world over and high on the priority of tourists. Keravan Kerala is a paradigm shift, catering to the demands of modern tourists in a post-covid scenario where safety, comfort and sustainability take precedence. Keravan Kerala offers unique experiences to tourists while opening new avenues for locals to benefit from tourism in the state. It melds the luxurious facilities of the caravans with Kerala’s natural beauty and responsible tourism practices.
Keravan Kerala truly is a visionary initiative, a first within India and a must-experience for the global traveller.
By Gasper DSouza